CLAY POT PORK AND TOMATILLO BRAISE

No worries if you don’t own a clay pot, just use any other suitable pot and go for it. I used several sources to inspire me for this recipe, and we were blown away by the outcome, The thing I love the most is being able to use a cut of pork that can be a bit tricky: boneless country style ribs. This type of recipe usually calls for pork shoulder, cut in pieces. I hate dealing with it, I end up wasting a lot of meat because… I literally butcher it. In the bad sense of the word. Boneless ribs come in a neat package, I cut each in two or three pieces and that’s all. The clay pot prevents it from getting dry and stringy. Win-win situation. Try it and you won’t be disappointed.

CLAY POT PORK AND TOMATILLO BRAISE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3-4 lb. boneless country pork ribs, cut in pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 shallots, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic (optional, I omit)
1 can crushed tomatoes, fired roasted if possible (28 oz)
10 tomatillos, peeled, washed and quartered
1 Serrano pepper, chopped (seeded if you prefer less heat)
1 tsp chipotle pepper (ground)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
water as needed
fresh cilantro to serve

Soak the clay pot in cold water.

Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a pan until very hot. Pat the pork dry, season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook the pork until browned on both sides. Transfer to a bowl as you continue browning all pieces. Add a little more oil to the pan, sauté the shallots and garlic (if u sing). Add the ground spices and let them sauté for 30 seconds or so, stirring constantly.

Add the tomatillos and Serrano pepper, sautee for a couple of minutes, then add the can of tomatoes, bay leaves, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Stir everything and add the pork. If needed, add water to almost cover the meat.

Transfer everything to the soaked clay pot, place in a cold oven and turn it to 375F. Cook for 2 hours and 15 minutes if your oven heats slowly (like mine does) or 2 hours in a fast-heating oven.

Serve with fresh cilantro.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The picture above shows how much liquid I add to start the braise. I probably needed to add slightly less than 1 cup of water. The meat turns very tender and with perfect texture for our taste. Such an easy cut of meat to work with!

Although not very traditional, hubby loves to have this pork in a Brazilian-ized way: with black beans…

You can of course use the toppings traditionally paired with chili: guacamole, crumbled Mexican cheese, a little sour cream. Whatever path you choose, I am sure this will be a favorite.

ONE YEAR AGO: Vegan Chocolate-Dipped Cinnamon Cookies

TWO YEARS AGO: Lemony Barley with Shrimp and Spinach

THREE YEARS AGO:Black Rice with Roasted Cauliflower

FOUR YEARS AGO:
La Couronne Bordelaise

FIVE YEARS AGO: A Special Birthday Dinner

SIX YEARS AGO: Duck Confit for a Special Occasion

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Tuscan Grilled Chicken and Sausage Skewers

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with Pork Tenderloin & Apples

NINE YEARS AGO: Salmon Wellington

TEN YEARS AGO: The Green Chip Alternative

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Weekend Pita Project

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Let it snow, let it snow, eggs in snow

DOUBLE PEANUT SOURDOUGH LOAF

Of all the nuts out there, the peanut is the ugly duckling. Simple, humble, affordable, available everywhere. It does not have that majestic feel of a macadamia, or the sexy aura of a hazelnut. Most sourdough breads include walnuts or pecans, leaving them once again neglected. Not in my kitchen, though. This bread gets a double load of peanuts. Peanut butter, and roasted peanuts joined together with flour, salt and a wild bunch of yeast and bacteria aka sourdough starter.

DOUBLE PEANUT SOURDOUGH LOAF
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

370g water
70g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration
470g bread flour
20g spelt flour
10 g rye flour
30g peanut butter (smooth)
30g roasted peanuts, unsalted
10g salt

  • Place the water in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and dissolve the starter in it, mixing with a spatula briefly, then add the three types of flour, the peanut butter and the salt.
  • Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 2 minutes at low-speed all the time. If the dough is too sticky, add 1/4 cup flour, you want the dough to start clearing the sides of the bowl, but still be sticky at the bottom.
  • Add the peanuts and continue kneading in low-speed for 2 and a half minutes more.
  • Remove the dough from the machine, and transfer to a container lightly coated with oil, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 4 hours, folding every 45 minutes or so.
  • After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough as a ball, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. Leave at room temperature one hour, and then place in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.
  • Next morning, heat the oven to 450F. Invert the dough over parchment paper, rub gently white flour on the surface. Score with any pattern you like.
  • Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam. Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you follow my blog, you know that my default method for sourdough involves the Kitchen Aid initial kneading and never heating the Dutch oven before dropping the bread inside, over parchment paper. Those two details make life a lot easier in terms of clean up of bowls, hands, and lack of burning marks in forearms and fingers…

I add the peanuts after 2 minutes kneading with the KA, and run the machine for one additional couple of minutes or so. That is enough to incorporate the nuts in the dough, which will continue to happen during the subsequent foldings. You can slash the dough in patterns or just do a simple slash. Below I show you another type of pattern, a kind of geometric flower.

We loved the subtle peanut flavor of this bread, and biting into a little peanut here and there was also very nice. The peanuts will end up softer than other nuts normally used in breads.

ONE YEAR AGO: Fennel-Rubbed Shrimp in Light Coconut Sauce

TWO YEARS AGO: Puff Bread Balls, Two Salads and a Cookbook Review

THREE YEARS AGO: Pistachio-Caramel and Apple Mousse Cakes

FOUR YEARS AGO: La Couronne Bordelaise

FIVE YEARS AGO: A Special Birthday Dinner

SIX YEARS AGO: Duck Confit for a Special Occasion

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Tuscan Grilled Chicken and Sausage Skewers

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with Pork Tenderloin & Apples

NINE YEARS AGO: Salmon Wellington

TEN YEARS AGO: The Green Chip Alternative

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Weekend Pita Project

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Let it snow, let it snow, eggs in snow

BRAISED LAMB SHANKS IN CLAY POT

They can be made in a regular pan in the oven, but the clay pot does a beautiful job in this type of braising, so if you own one, put it to use. I like to prepare it the day before we want to enjoy it, because lamb is very fatty. Storing it in the fridge overnight allows me to remove the fat that congeals on the surface. For us, it makes the meal a lot lighter and easier to digest, but you can omit that step if you prefer.

BRAISED LAMB SHANKS IN CLAY POT
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

2 lamb shanks
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tsp oregano
2 shallots, thickly chopped
2 celery stalks, thickly chopped
1 can whole tomatoes with their liquid (28 oz)
3 large carrots, cut into large chunks
1/2c red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Soak clay pot in cold water according to the recommendations for your brand.

Rinse and pat dry lamb shanks, season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan and brown the lamb shanks on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to the clay pot.

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, brown the shallots and celery until fragrant. Add tomatoes, oregano, tomato paste and wine, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring every once in a while. Add cinnamon and balsamic vinegar, a little salt and pepper. Pour sauce over lamb shanks, add bay leaves. Arrange the carrots around the meat. If the liquid does not reach all the way up to the meat, add some water.

Place in a cold oven, turn to 375F and cook for 2 and a half to three hours. If after 2.5 hours the meat is not falling apart, and there is not enough liquid, add a little water, close the pot again and roast for another 30 minutes.

If serving next day, remove clay pot from the oven, cool it, and refrigerate overnight. Remove the congealed fat and warm the meat and sauce together.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was our first dinner of 2022, and let me tell you, it exorcized awful demons from a previous celebratory meal. I am talking Christmas Eve, in which yours truly cooked the worst duck ever made in the history of mankind. I am not proud. Everything went wrong and our dinner ended up as quinoa and roasted vegetables. Which is ok, but I was really hoping for a nice roast duck to go with it. Anyway, I digress. These lamb shanks would make angels sing, unless they are Vegan Angels.

Juicy, flavorful, tender. We enjoyed them with mashed sweet potatoes. My main advice is to load the clay pot with as many carrots as you can fit in there. They turn into carrot candy…

ONE YEAR AGO: Cookies with a Smile

TWO YEARS AGO: Pearled Farro with Asparagus Coins

THREE YEARS AGO: Pistachio Caramel and Apple Mousse Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Someone turns 70 today!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Carioca Cake, the Final Chapter

SIX YEARS AGO: Duck Confit for a Special Occasion

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Ken Forkish’s Warm Spot Sourdough 

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, Rainbows, and a wonderful surprise!

NINE YEARS AGO: Salmon Wellington

TEN YEARS AGO: The Green Chip Alternative

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Weekend Pita Project

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Let it snow, let it snow, eggs in snow

CHOCOLATE CHERRY MIROIR CAKE: A VEGAN SHOWSTOPPER

Please, do not allow the vegan word to scare you away. This was one of the tastiest cakes I’ve ever made, and I simply cannot BELIEVE it is vegan. The recipe comes from Fran Costigan’s cookbook: Vegan Chocolate, Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-free Chocolate Desserts. Ms. Costigan has decades of experience creating dairy-free cakes and concoctions that do not rely on margarine and tofu like most do. As she points out in the introduction of the book, you can always taste margarine in the icing, and tofu will never fail to make a cake heavy. This cake – included in her “Showstoppers” chapter – is a bit involved to make, but one of the things I love about her cookbook is that she lays out a timetable suggesting how you can break the process in stages in a smooth and efficient way. I made the cake, the vanilla custard cream, and the chocolate decorations two days before. Made the mousse, assembled the cake and covered with the glaze the day before showtime. Basically, the cake was ready and waiting in the fridge before we had to take it to a get-together with friends. All that was left to do was add the chocolate decorations. Piece of (vegan) cake!


CHERRY CHOCOLATE MIROIR CAKE
(from Fran Costigan’s Vegan Chocolate)

RECIPE OVERVIEW

1 recipe for Chocolate Torte to Live For (click here), baked in a 9-inch round pan and cooled
(can be made a couple of days in advance)

Other components

Soaked dry cherries

Vanilla Custard Cream: based on cashew cream and coconut milk, thickened with agar-agar

Magic Chocolate Mousse: water-ganache with a touch of olive oil, very interesting and quite tasty version

Mirror glaze: Cherry juice, coconut milk, cocoa, chocolate, agar-agar

Comments: Vegan baking is not simple. Fran’s book takes that challenge and turns it into art. I don’t think it is right to publish the full recipe for such a complex cake, when so much work and effort went into its design and optimization. But the cake component, which by the way, stands beautifully on its own, can be made according to the recipe she published in her website (click here). In that version, the cake is covered with a vegan ganache and ends up very elegant in its simplicity. It remains as one of her most popular cakes, and having made it, I can understand why.

For the decorations, I tempered chocolate and used some of it to pipe designs on acetate sheet. The remaining I spread over transfer sheets (I get mine usually at bakedeco.com) and before it was fully set I cut small triangles. Fran’s version in the cookbook used fresh cherries covered in tempered chocolate, but they are not in season at the present time, so I went with my Plan B.

Everything works perfectly well in this cake, I would not change a thing. The cake is intensely chocolate-y, the two mousse components soften the overall taste. I really like the texture of glazes made with agar-agar instead of gelatin, find it a lot easier to work with and more reproducible. Gelatin-based glazes tend to get a bit slimy, particularly if sitting at room temperature for a while.

To get Fran’s cookbook – a must-have if you are into baking adventures – follow this link to amazon.

ONE YEAR AGO: Bee Happy Honey Macarons

TWO YEARS AGO: Episode 7 of Great American Baking Show, Canapes, Opera Cake and Running out of Gas

THREE YEARS AGO: Raspberry Ganache Macarons

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pain au Chocolat

FIVE YEARS AGO: Two Unusual Takes on Roasted Veggies

SIX YEARS AGO: Kadoo Boranee: Butternut Squash Perfection

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Creamy Broccoli Soup with Toasted Almonds

EIGHT YEARS AGO:
 Fennel and Cheddar Cheese Crackers

NINE YEARS AGO: A Festive Pomegranate Dessert

TEN YEARS AGO: My First Award!

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: A Message from WordPress

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Turkish Chicken Kebabs

HAPPY NEW YEAR IN MY KITCHEN!

In My Kitchen posts are hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. Please visit her site to see what everybody else is sharing this month. I join four times each year, on the first day of January, April, July and October. If you are a food blogger, considering taking part of this fun event. It is chance to share those little things you bought or received as gifts and that make your life in the kitchen easier. 

Starting with gifts… 

From my niece Raquel, all the way from Brazil…

A beautiful pie plate, with incredible blue color! So touched by this gift.

From my future daughter-in-law Courtnie…

A very unique ceramic bowl from an artist in New York, so delicate and elegant! Thank you so much…

From Phil…

A Cricut Air Explorer 2 cutter, which I will use exclusively for stencils to use in my cookies… I’ve been flirting with the idea of getting one for the longest time, so now it is time to face that learning curve and play with it. I have already used it for some cookies recently featured on my cookie blog (see here and here).

From my dear friend Jill…

I cannot think of a better pair of earrings for me! MACARONS! Can you see my big smile when I opened the package? Thank you thank you thank you!

From my dear friend Ines…

We are both quite fond of his show, and I was already planning to get this book, but Ines beat me to it… thank you so much! She also sent us Panforte, the delicacy from Siena, but we destroyed the beauty of it so quickly I could not snap a good picture. That stuff is just amazing!

From my dear friend Christine…

Every year she sends me an AMAZING Christmas card… makes me feel so special… thank you a million times, much appreciated!

From our dear friends Pat and Bill…

A gorgeous plate with the most beautiful painted cardinal, my favorite bird! And a couple of placemats with the same pattern, that matches our dinner plates so very well! Thank you, thank you, thank YOU!

And now, moving on to acquisitions from the past 3 months…

In our kitchen…

This beautiful wooden stand was all alone at Marshalls, and I could not resist rescuing it… Love the patterns and the cream & white motif.

In our kitchen…

Not for the faint at heart, a hot hot hot flavored salt from Spice House, called quite appropriately Vulcan Salt… use sparingly… or NOT! 😉

In our kitchen…

These are smaller than the mini-chips you can normally find in grocery stores. They are perfect to incorporate in cookie dough (I mean in the cookie dough itself before rolling it out). Stay tuned for more on this important subject later.

In our kitchen…

Perfect Palate, a powder flavoring agent I heard about from professional “cookiers” in groups I follow. I decided to give them a try and was very pleasantly surprised. I’ve used all three in buttercream fillings for macarons. A little bit gives a ton of flavor, with no artificial “feel” to it.

In our kitchen…

A new cutter I could not resist, so I could make a festive New Year inspired cookie. Inspired by Haniela, by the way.

In our kitchen…

Two new colors for luster powder, from The Sugar Art. Really lover their products, and with Springerle season starting, I need the right tools for the job…

In our kitchen…

Speaking of color, this was the gift I gave myself for Christmas…. a set of watercolors from Sugarprism, a product released just this past month… So easy to use, you wet the brush and get the colors going. I’ve used exclusively on Royal icing but if you follow Michelle’s Facebook page, you will see many other uses for it, and be able to follow her many free tutorials. She is just amazing.

Here are my first cookies painted with Sugarprism watercolor (I am no Van Gogh, let’s keep that in mind)…

And now, it’s time to introduce a few changes in the In My Kitchen posts.

THE DOG DAYS ARE OVER!!!!!

No more sharing MY spotlight with ingrate canines. All they do is induce chaos, mess, disorganization and grievance. They can get their own blog going. 2022 is the year of change!

FREEDOM FOR THE BEWITCHING KITCHEN!

Perhaps they know me too well. I do have a set of three soft spots in my heart… So yes, I will – reluctantly – allow them to bark their piece. Let’s see what they’ve been up to lately…

First for some big news! BogeyQuitThatTM had his virtual wedding to the lovely Margaret, who barks all the way from California, and – it goes without saying – has a very discriminating taste as far as partners go.

There they are, happy in their virtual honeymoon to Arizona, to visit family. BogeyQT is very big on going bye bye in pickup trucks.

Oscar was a bit jealous, but once he heard he could be what is called “The Best Dog” in that virtual party, he thought justice had been done. Because who else could play that part?

Bogey has a few thoughts on the matter to share with his brother…

As you may remember, Buck has lost most of his hearing, and that changed a bit his personality and the way he interacts with the other pups.

One of the things we need to pay attention is the fact that if Oscar growls at him, he won’t hear, so he does not realize the danger. He has a few scars from altercations with the younger brother, nothing too serious, but we have to be always vigilant.

But even his hearing loss is not enough to guarantee a peaceful night’s sleep in our household….

Buck and Bogey for the most part are best buddies. Quite often they get in a similar wavelength, enjoying a snooze together in almost identical position.

And every once in a while, one of their humans might join the fun…

They are of course also partners in begging…

Whereas Oscar prefers to act solo…

Although, as far as gastronomy is concerned, he has some idiosyncrasies…

Buck prefers food with more political substance….

Speaking of Oscar…

Mr. Burr Magnet strikes again. Arrow points at a region with about 109 needles stuck to his very sexy beard. Of course, cleaning that all up makes us at risk of getting a visit from the Animal Protection Agency, as neighbors 1 mile away will definitely hear his screaming.

That’s all for now, folks… the gang at the Bewitching Kitchen is marching together to embrace the new year that starts, so we take this opportunity to we wish you all..

ONE YEAR AGO: Happy New Year in My Kitchen!

TWO YEARS AGO: Happy 2020 In My Kitchen!

THREE YEARS AGO: Happy 2019 In My Kitchen!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Happy New Year In My Kitchen!

SIX YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: Happy New Year!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: And another year starts…

EIGHT YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen: January 2014

NINE YEARS AGO: Tacos with Pork in Green Sauce

TEN YEARS AGO:  Maui New Year!

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye